Archbishop: Respect sacred places
Monday, October 8 2012
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ON BENDED KNEES: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and National Security Minister Jack Warner kneel in prayer yesterday during Mass at the Church ...
ROMAN Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris last night appealed for greater respect for sacred places of worship in the country. He made the appeal after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar showed the People’s Partnership Government’s commitment to the Roman Catholic Church through the presentation of a $2 million cheque for the restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port-of-Spain.
Speaking at centennial celebrations at Mount St Benedict, the Archbishop said the $2 million provided by Persad-Bissessar would go a long way to assist in the Cathedral’s restoration, which costs approximately $50 million. He explained that before yesterday, chairperson of the Restoration Appeal Fund Joanne Miller had managed to raise $12 million.
Reiterating the Church stands ready to play its role in tackling the nation’s issues, the Archbishop expressed concern that many people in the country have, “lost respect for our sacred places of worship.” He cautioned that “unless we restore our sacred places to what they were meant to be, respect for the human being is going to suffer.” The Archbishop said this was being reflected in the murders, rapes and other crimes taking place in the country today.
In her address, Persad-Bissessar said she was advised that repairs to the 150-year old Cathedral would cost in the region of $70 million and there were a total of 23 areas in the building which are in need of urgent repair. Saying her administration respects the role all religions play in strengthening the nation, the Prime Minister said Government was prepared to put its money where its mouth is and provide a contribution to the church’s efforts to restore the Cathedral.
Before presenting the cheque to Archbishop Harris, Persad-Bissessar urged the private sector and all citizens to lend whatever support they could to raising funds to restore the Cathedral which is a historical landmark in the country.
Persad-Bissessar described the Mount as a “stairway to Heaven.” where many people feel emboldened and close to “true divinity” when they visit it.
Abbott John Pereira of Mount St Benedict in his remarks found it surprising that National Security Minister Jack Warner was sitting in the front of the congregation. Saying Warner regularly attends Mass on the Mount, Pereira said even when Warner is Acting Prime Minister he “humbly” takes his seat in the back of the church.